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Deciphering your bicycle’s issues: 5 common noises & their solutions

Bicycle Wheel

Listening to your bicycle is key to maintaining it well, as different sounds can indicate various issues. This article decodes five common noises that bicycles make, such as squeaks, clicks, and rattles, and provides practical solutions for each. We’ll guide you through identifying the source of each noise and the steps you can take to fix them. Whether it’s a loose component or a need for lubrication, understanding what these sounds mean can help you address small problems before they turn into bigger issues. This knowledge is essential for both novice riders and experienced cyclists, ensuring your bike rides smoothly and stays in good condition.

Clicking Noise When Pedalling

A clicking noise when pedalling can be a sign of several issues. It could be due to a loose pedal, a worn-out bottom bracket, or even a misaligned derailleur. The first step in diagnosing the problem is to identify the source of the noise.

If the clicking noise occurs with every pedal stroke, it’s likely coming from the crankset or the pedals. Check for any loose parts and tighten them accordingly. If the noise persists, the bottom bracket may be worn out and need replacing.

A misaligned derailleur can also cause a clicking noise. This is usually accompanied by poor shifting performance. Adjusting the derailleur should solve the problem.

In some cases, the clicking noise could be due to a damaged chain or cassette. Inspect these parts for any signs of wear or damage. If they are damaged, they will need to be replaced.

Finally, the clicking noise could be due to a lack of lubrication. Regularly lubricating your bicycle’s moving parts can prevent many common noises.

Muc-Off-Bike-Chain-lubrication

Squeaking Bicycle Noise

A squeaking noise from your bicycle is often a sign of friction. This could be due to a lack of lubrication, worn-out parts, or misaligned components.

The most common source of squeaking noise is the chain. If the chain is dry, it can cause a squeaking noise when it moves. Regularly lubricating the chain can prevent this.

Brake pads can also cause a squeaking noise if they are worn out or misaligned. Check the brake pads for any signs of wear and replace them if necessary. If the brake pads are misaligned, they can be adjusted to correct the problem.

The pedals can also cause a squeaking noise if they are not properly lubricated or if they are worn out. Regularly lubricating the pedals and replacing them when they are worn out can prevent this noise.

Finally, a squeaking noise could be due to a loose or worn-out saddle. Check the saddle for any signs of wear or looseness and tighten or replace it as necessary.

Grinding Noise in Bicycle’s Gears

A grinding noise in your bicycle’s gears is often a sign of a problem with the drivetrain. This could be due to a worn-out chain, a misaligned derailleur, or a damaged cassette.

The first step in diagnosing the problem is to inspect the chain. If the chain is worn out, it can cause a grinding noise when it interacts with the gears. Replacing the chain should solve the problem.

A misaligned derailleur can also cause a grinding noise. This is usually accompanied by poor shifting performance. Adjusting the derailleur should solve the problem.

If the grinding noise persists, the cassette may be damaged. Inspect the cassette for any signs of wear or damage and replace it if necessary.

Finally, a grinding noise could be due to a lack of lubrication. Regularly lubricating your bicycle’s moving parts can prevent many common noises.

Destroyed Rear SRAM Derailleur

Clunking Noise When Shifting Gears

A clunking noise when shifting gears is often a sign of a problem with the drivetrain. This could be due to a worn-out chain, a misaligned derailleur, or a damaged cassette.

The first step in diagnosing the problem is to inspect the chain. If the chain is worn out, it can cause a clunking noise when it interacts with the gears. Replacing the chain should solve the problem.

A misaligned derailleur can also cause a clunking noise. This is usually accompanied by poor shifting performance. Adjusting the derailleur should solve the problem.

If the clunking noise persists, the cassette may be damaged. Inspect the cassette for any signs of wear or damage and replace it if necessary.

Finally, a clunking noise could be due to a lack of lubrication. Regularly lubricating your bicycle’s moving parts can prevent many common noises.

Rattling Noise in Bicycle

A rattling noise in your bicycle can be caused by a variety of issues. It could be due to loose parts, a misaligned derailleur, or even a damaged wheel.

If the rattling noise occurs when you ride over bumps, it’s likely due to loose parts. Check the handlebars, seat, pedals, and wheels for any loose components and tighten them accordingly.

A misaligned derailleur can also cause a rattling noise. This is usually accompanied by poor shifting performance. Adjusting the derailleur should solve the problem.

In some cases, the rattling noise could be due to a damaged wheel. Inspect the wheel for any signs of damage, such as a bent rim or loose spokes. If the wheel is damaged, it will need to be repaired or replaced.

Finally, the rattling noise could be due to a lack of lubrication. Regularly lubricating your bicycle’s moving parts can prevent many common noises.

pump up bike tyre

Hissing Noise from Bicycle

A hissing noise from your bicycle is often a sign of a punctured tyre. This is usually accompanied by a loss of tyre pressure.

The first step in diagnosing the problem is to inspect the tyre for any signs of puncture. This could be a nail, a shard of glass, or even a sharp rock. If you find a puncture, you will need to repair or replace the tyre.

In some cases, the hissing noise could be due to a faulty valve. Check the valve for any signs of damage and replace it if necessary.

If the hissing noise persists, the inner tube may be damaged. Inspect the inner tube for any signs of wear or damage and replace it if necessary.

Finally, a hissing noise could be due to a lack of tyre pressure. Regularly checking and maintaining the correct tyre pressure can prevent many common noises.

Creaking Noise When Riding Bicycle

A creaking noise when riding your bicycle can be caused by several issues. It could be due to a loose component, a worn-out bottom bracket, or even a damaged frame.

If the creaking noise occurs when you pedal, it’s likely due to a problem with the crankset or the bottom bracket. Check these components for any signs of wear or looseness and tighten or replace them as necessary.

A damaged frame can also cause a creaking noise. This is usually accompanied by visible signs of damage, such as cracks or dents. If the frame is damaged, it will need to be repaired or replaced.

In some cases, the creaking noise could be due to a lack of lubrication. Regularly lubricating your bicycle’s moving parts can prevent many common noises.

TRP Brakes Spyre-mechanical-disc-brake

Popping Noise When Braking

A popping noise when braking is often a sign of a problem with the brake system. This could be due to worn-out brake pads, a misaligned brake calliper, or a damaged brake rotor.

The first step in diagnosing the problem is to inspect the brake pads. If the brake pads are worn out, they can cause a popping noise when they interact with the brake rotor. Replacing the brake pads should solve the problem.

A misaligned brake calliper can also cause a popping noise. This is usually accompanied by poor braking performance. Adjusting the brake calliper should solve the problem.

If the popping noise persists, the brake rotor may be damaged. Inspect the brake rotor for any signs of wear or damage and replace it if necessary.

Finally, a popping noise could be due to a lack of lubrication. Regularly lubricating your bicycle’s moving parts can prevent many common noises.

Whirring Noise in Bicycle

A whirring noise in your bicycle is often a sign of friction. This could be due to a lack of lubrication, worn-out parts, or misaligned components.

The most common source of a whirring noise is the drivetrain. If the chain, cassette, or derailleur are not properly lubricated, they can cause a whirring noise when they move. Regularly lubricating these parts can prevent this noise.

The wheels can also cause a whirring noise if they are not properly lubricated or if they are worn out. Regularly lubricating the wheels and replacing them when they are worn out can prevent this noise.

Finally, a whirring noise could be due to a misaligned component. Check the drivetrain and the wheels for any signs of misalignment and adjust them as necessary.

Knocking Noise in Bicycle

A knocking noise on your bicycle can be caused by a variety of issues. It could be due to loose parts, a misaligned derailleur, or even a damaged frame.

If the knocking noise occurs when you ride over bumps, it’s likely due to loose parts. Check the handlebars, seat, pedals, and wheels for any loose components and tighten them accordingly.

A misaligned derailleur can also cause a knocking noise. This is usually accompanied by poor shifting performance. Adjusting the derailleur should solve the problem.

In some cases, the knocking noise could be due to a damaged frame. Inspect the frame for any signs of damage, such as cracks or dents. If the frame is damaged, it will need to be repaired or replaced.

Finally, the knocking noise could be due to a lack of lubrication. Regularly lubricating your bicycle’s moving parts can prevent many common noises.

a close up of a bicycle parked next to a tree handlebars

Diagnosing Rattling Handlebars

A persistent rattle from your bike’s handlebars can be more than just a nuisance; it often indicates a loose headset. To confirm, apply your brakes and exert forward pressure on the bike while stationary. If the front end shakes or shudders, a loose headset is likely the culprit.

How to Fix it

Tightening a loose headset is a straightforward process. Loosen the stem bolts to allow for easy rotation of the handlebars. Gently tighten the top cap until you feel some resistance. After ensuring the wheel is perfectly aligned, securely fasten the stem bolts. If you require visual assistance, various online tutorials are at your disposal. Double-check by applying your brakes and rocking the bike forward; the juddering should have disappeared. If not, examine your bottle cage bolts, pannier mounts, and mudguard mounts, as these could also generate unwarranted noise.

For more information on diagnosing and solving common bicycle noises, check out our tips and reviews and rides sections.